The last leg of my road trip was Northern Georgia where the mountains show their beauty in varying shades of blue silhouettes against the sky. The tops and hills covered by beautiful green trees.
I left Savannah later than I should and the drive to Amicalola Falls State Park took much longer than I had anticipated. It should have only been a six hour drive and I should have arrived by 10:00 P.M., but I’m notorious for being distracted while driving and I did make a few stops.
It was about 11:45 P.M. when I arrived at the state park. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to put up the tent that night, but as I pulled through the entrance and saw the sign that warned against ‘approaching bears’ my decision was solidified. Now (Am-i-ca-lo-la) is on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Chattahoochee National Forest, so upward I drove. After I passed the entrance, I started to climb. I wasn’t looking forward to driving down the steep road. I have learned how to use my 3rd gear driving on mountain roads.
Curving up the mountain road, I saw a sign that announced the lodge. I pulled in and parked at the door. Midnight arrival, I was the only person in the lobby and smiled at the receptionist. I took a chance and ask if she had an empty room and the cost. Although it was a beautiful lodge, I just couldn’t make myself pay $112 for a room. I checked in for the state park and asked for directions. Back in the car, I took the turn for the campsite.
More climbing…I passed the sign for ‘cottages’ and campsites.’ It was a small oval with RV’s and tents occupying about half of them. I made the first round looking at my choices and hoped I wasn’t making too much noise. At the second pass, I picked campsite #20 and pulled my car in, turned off the engine, reached back for my pillow and sleeping bag, and leaned my seat back as far as it would go. I was snoozing in minutes.
I woke early and set up my campsite. I visited with the campers across from me who were packing up. After putting up and taking down the tent, I was getting pretty efficient at doing it.
Later, I went to explore the treasure of this state park; The 720 feet Falls! My two options were to park at the bottom and hike up or park at the top and hike down. Either way was going to be a little strenuous. I started at the top and the first thing I saw was a group of youth coming off the trail….sweating!
After viewing the falls from the top, I headed downward. There were stairs leading down and at first I thought, “This will be easy going” despite what the sign at the top proclaimed. I was so wrong! The stairs were challenging the more you descended, not because they changed in degrees, just because there were 425 steps descending.
Spectacular! The view was worth every step! There’s a bridge that passes over the 729 feet tall cascading falls. Standing in front of them is simply beautiful….and loud! The water rushing down and hitting the stones simply reverberated around me. I stood admiring the beauty because there wasn’t any need in rushing. This is the reason for the long drive and the breathlessness of the hike down. It was perfect for posing in front of for pictures and there were plenty of people taking advantage of God’s creation for a background.
This is the largest part of the cascades, but definitely not the end of the Falls. There’s about 175 more steps down and then a trail that continues downward to the reflecting pond where people fish. Luckily there are large rocks and a few benches for resting along the way.
I hiked past the pond to the Visitor Center, gift shop, and restroom. Sadly, I never saw a bear! . . . Or was that lucky? I have no idea what I would have done if I had actually come across one.
I visited with one of the rangers in the Visitor Center and she showed me the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Wow! I can’t imagine hiking 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine.
That day, I did pass four separate hikers headed for the trail with their backpacks strapped on and two of them had those walking poles. All were in their early 20’s. One of the girl hikers asked me to call her cell phone because she couldn’t remember if she packed it in her backpack. It was there hidden underneath something. She looked so relieved.
I journeyed back and the stairs were way more challenging going up than down. I was passed by two fourteen year old girls moving like bullets. Oh youth, young bodies, and boundless energy! I kept pausing on the landings like I was enjoying the view, but in reality, I just needed to catch my breath.
I drove to the lodge and had lunch at their restaurant. I saw a woman sitting by herself at a table by the floor to ceiling window view. I asked to join her. She was a widow visiting her daughter-in-law that worked at the visitor center. We visited while eating delicious burgers with fries. She shared a hilarious story about her son having a ‘bear connection’ while getting his tackle box ready for fishing. She kept me laughing and it was nice to have company eating.
After lunch, I spent some time at my camp, but went back to the lodge to sit on the back porch. It was a beautiful long one with rocking chairs and the most gorgeous view! I sat and rocked, listening to conversations around me, while enjoying the Internet connection and the view of Springer Mountain. It was cloudy as twilight crept over the mountain and turned the sky and mountains an indigo blue. Wow! I don’t think I could ever get bored with that sight.
I shared my disappointment of not seeing any bears with John behind the registration desk at the lodge. He said, “Now Ms. Becky, I can guarantee you’ll see a bear if you get a couple of T-bones from the restaurant and carry them down on the trail. You’ll have a few visiting you in no time and have a story to tell.” We both got a laugh at that.
The next morning it was raining, and I took down my campsite for the last time on this road trip. I had slept so great. There was a wonderful cool breeze that blew into the tent actually making me go into the sleeping bag for the first time on my trip.
The campers next door, needed me to jump off their car battery because someone left the interior lights on. For thanks, they made me a cup of coffee. It was instant, but it hit the spot! I suggested that they take advantage of the view and chairs at the lodge if it continued to rain.
Their youngest daughter (about 11) tickled me the day before because she was pacing back and forth in front of the restroom when I came out of it. I stopped to talk to her and she told me she was working up her nerve to use the restroom because of the spiders in it. I could relate because I hate those eight legged creatures too! The night before, I found a grandaddy long legs on the front of my shirt! I couldn’t flick it off fast enough.
Loaded up, I set off for my next stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park. It was my last scheduled stop for this road trip. My road trip was coming to a close and I hated to see it end.